Exciting new park opens up on the Parkway

Sister Cities Park, at 18th & the Parkway, has recently opened up this past summer.  Sister Cities Park is a dramatic and comprehensive re-imagination of Sister Cities Plaza, a 1.3 acre park on the eastern end of Logan Square across the street from the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, that was built in the 1970s to commemorate Philadelphia’s “sister cities”.  The Sister Cities program pairs cities around the world to encourage business and cultural ties between world cities.  Philadelphia has ten sister cities now, but the original three were Florence, Italy; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Tianjin, China, which were mentioned in the original plaza on granite pylons.

This new park was developed by the Center City District, the quasi-governmental agency that has improved Center City’s quality of life over the last 20 years, and is funded by CCD and several government sources and foundations.  The park was designed by DIGSAU, Studio Bryan Hanes, and Urban Engineers, and is the latest renovation of the green spaces of Logan Square, including Logan Circle, Shakespeare Park in front of the Central Library, and Aviator Park in front of the Franklin Institute (leaving only Pennypacker Park in front of the Family Courts Building, that will be sold off to a developer to likely be converted into a luxury hotel, to be renovated).  It is managed and maintained by the Center City District.

The park has several interesting and unique features.  At the southern end is a bluestone fountain with ten water jets which is, according to CCD’s website “a unique representation of the world with Philadelphia at its center” (as if we didn’t already know that) and displays the city’s ten sister cities at each water jet positioned by their geographic distance from Philadelphia.  The fountain is meant to be a play area for children on a hot day, a cleaner alternative to the Swann Fountain at Logan Circle.  North of the fountain is the Children’s Discovery Garden, designed to resemble the Wissahickon Valley in Fairmount Park, which has a dirt “hiking” trail that leads up to the top of a hill and a stream resembling the Wissahickon Creek, as well as, additional fountain jets.  The trail includes signs educating hikers about the Wissahickon Valley.  At the mouth of the stream is a little boat pond that children can wade into and sail boats, either their own boats or ones provided for rent by the Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory.  The Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory is an educational club that teaches young people how to make and sail model wooden sail boats.  They, along with the Academy of Natural Sciences located across the street, offer numerous educational events throughout the year.

The park, also, has a cafe and visitor center for the Parkway.  The cafe is a franchise of Milk & Honey Cafe of West Philadelphia.  It offers local brand items, including La Colombe Coffee; Bassett’s Ice Cream; South Street Philly Bagels; and BT brownies, in a modern stone, glass, and wooden pavilion with outdoor seating and incredible views of Logan Circle and the skyline.  They have “pairings” on Thursday evenings, in which customers can bring their own wine and pair it with Milk & Honey cheese and other items.  Inside the cafe’s pavilion is a visitor center for Parkway attractions, where visitors to the Parkway can find info about or buy tickets for the Parkway museums.  The visitor center, also, has a video screen that announces events and gives more info about the Parkway and the museums.  The cafe pavilion has a green roof and geothermal cooling.

As I mentioned, this is the latest public space improvement on the Parkway.  Besides the improvements to Logan Square, the Parkway has seen other improvements, including a new plaza at the new Barnes Foundation, a new cafe and renovation at Triangle Park at 16th Street, and renovating the sidewalks and lanes of the 2100 and 2200 blocks.  Future improvements include rebuilding Dilworth Plaza (already underway), rebuilding Love Park (probably starting next year), and re-imagining Eakins Oval (still in the planning stages).  If you are interesting in buying or selling a home or investment property in this spectacular cultural district or its adjacent neighborhoods, please contact me at Gabriel.gottlieb@lnf.com or check out my Facebook realtor page, Gabriel G. Philly Realtor, or my twitter page, @GabrielGPhilaRE.  And, you can view my Long & Foster agent portal, here, or our Long & Foster Philly Center City office, here.  You can, also, find out more about Sister Cities Park and the events going on there by clicking on this link to the CCD website, and read more at the website of Urban Engineers, here.  And, I have many pictures, below, of the park that I took on the day of its grand opening late last spring.

Sister Cities Park as seen from the Ben Franklin Parkway

Sign for Sister Cities Park, on the Parkway, below several skyscrapers

Looking down the Parkway, towards City Hall, from Sister Cities Park

View of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul

Decorative brickwork along the walkways

Fountain in the middle of the park with geographic map of Philadelphia’s sister cities etched in stone

One of Philadelphia’s sister cities, along with the others, is emblazoned on this granite wall

View of Swann Fountain, in Logan Circle, from Sister Cities Park

View of the Central Library and CityView Condominiums from Sister Cities Park

Opening day festivities at Sister Cities Park

Children’s Discovery Garden

Diego de Gardoqui statue

Plaque describing Diego de Gardoqui statue

Children climbing on the rocks of the Children’s Discovery Garden

Sign describes the Wissahickon Valley, which the Children’s Discovery Garden was designed to resemble

View of the Children’s Discovery Garden and Milk & Honey Cafe with the Cathedral and skyscrapers in the background

Expansive view of the Cathedral and skyscrapers

Stream resembles Wissahickon Creek

Stream emptying into boat pond

Boat pond in Sister Cities Park

Boat pond and cafe

Child sailing a boat in the pond

Child sailing a rented wooden boat from the Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory

Wooden boats and info from the Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory

Wooden boats manufactured by the Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory

Milk & Honey Cafe and visitor center

Close up of Milk & Honey Cafe shows stone, glass, and wooden ceiling inside and outside

Inside the Milk & Honey Cafe in Sister Cities Park

Video screen at the Milk & Honey Cafe visitor center

View of Swann Fountain, in Logan Circle, from Milk & Honey Cafe

Outdoor seating at Milk & Honey Cafe, overlooking Logan Circle

View of skyscrapers from the outdoor seating area of Milk & Honey Cafe


About gabrielcgottlieb

I am a real estate agent at Long & Foster Real Estate Center City and someone who likes to write about development and urban planning in the City of Philadelphia. Contact me at Gabriel.gottlieb@LNF.com if you are interested in buying or selling a home or investment property in Philadelphia.
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3 Responses to Exciting new park opens up on the Parkway

  1. Sherri says:

    Awesome photos of the Childrens discovery garden in logan circle…. a project our office gave grant money to. Is it possible to get permission to use the photos for our annual report. We are a state agency and often times only take pictures of final site inspections and we dont have the marketing/kids playing photos after the park/site is open. Thanks

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